With less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter, and the score tied against St. Joseph High, San Luis Obispo wide receiver Trevor McGuire looked his coach, David Kelley, square in the eyes.
I want the ball, he said.
“I needed to catch that one,” McGuire said. “Their corners were just playing the run every down and we just decided to take a shot.”
The bold request paid off. McGuire got exactly what he asked for and hauled in a 10-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 37 seconds left for a 36-29 PAC 7 home football win over the Knights on Friday.
“He just looked at me and just said, ‘Coach Now. I want the ball,’ ” Kelley said. “He wanted to make it happen. I was going to run the ball out like we do, kick the field goal and try to win it that way, so atta boy to him.
“I just got pride in my boys. They are a great group of young men that just want to play football and have fun doing it. I love them to death.”
Credit St. Joseph quarterback Paul Avila for setting the stage for San Luis Obispo’s dramatic, game-winning drive. He threw for two of the four touchdowns scored in the fourth quarter. It was just one of his many highlights as he was 17 for 34 passing for 326 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We knew they were a good football team and we knew we couldn’t let up or anything like that,” San Luis Obispo quarterback Garrett Giovannelli said, “and we didn’t.”
Giovannelli carried that mindset at the start of the fourth quarter, with the Tigers clinging to a 19-14 lead after Avila found Karsh on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Giovannelli answered and gave the Tigers’ staggering offense life in a big way. The junior struck paydirt on a 68-yard touchdown run to put San Luis Obispo ahead 26-14, and after the Tigers got a 25-yard field goal from kicker Tanner Kahn on their next possession, San Luis Obispo found itself ahead 29-14.
But just when the Tigers thought they were pulling away, St. Joseph answered.
Avila found Karsh again open over the middle for a 80-yard TD, making it a one-score game at 29-21. He then connected with Chad Brooks for a 40-yard scoring strike and converted the 2-point conversion with a pass Eddie Cavazos to tie the score.
But the Tigers would not let up, setting the stage for a chance to play against Arroyo Grande next weekend for a share of the PAC 7 championship.
“It’s a chance,” Kelley said. “I don’t care what everyone else thinks, but we’ve got 48 minutes to compete for a league championship. Bottom line, that is what we are going to do.
“They are a damn good football team, they are going to be the best team we’ve seen all year, so we better bring our A game.”
The Tigers head into the matchup with a full head of steam. After suffering their first PAC 7 loss to Righetti (19-12) on Oct. 21, the Tigers downed Atascadero at home 17-14 last week for their first win over the Greyhounds since 2004.
And after rushing for 415 yards Friday, including 214 from Erick Cordova, the Tigers may have enough confidence to dethrone the Eagles from their perch atop the PAC 7.
“It’s awesome,” Giovannelli said. “They are a great football team. We just have to come out (and play) harder than them.”